Tag Archives: Poetry Week

World Poetry Day: An Open Letter to the Guy at Work by Liz Ruddy

If there is one poem I’d like to share on World Poetry Day 2017, it’s this one:

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World Poetry Day: The Battle of Hastings by Marriott Edgar

Happy World Poetry Day, one and all! This year I’m posting in memory of my grandfather Harry King, and sharing one of his classic monologues by Marriott Edgar, and certainly a family favourite!

I’ll tell of the Battle of ‘Astings
As happened in days long gone by,
When Duke William became King of England
And Harold got shot in the eye.

‘Twere this way: One day in October
The Duke, who were always a toff,
And having no battles on at the moment
Had given his lads the day off.

They’d all took some boats to go fishin’
When some chap in the Conqueror’s ear,
Said: “Let’s go and put breeze up the Saxons.”
Says Bill: “By ‘eck, that’s an idea!”

Then turning around to his soldiers,
He lifted his great Norman voice
And said: “Hands up who’s coming to England.”
That was swank ‘cos they hadn’t much choice.

So they all set sail about teatime,
And the sea were so calm and so still
And at quarter to ten the next morning
They arrived at a place called Bexhill.

When Harold had seen that they’d landed,
He came up with venom and hate,
Saying :”If tha’s come for the regatta
Tha’s come here a fortnight too late.”

But William arose cool and haughty,
And said: “Give us none of your cheek.
And you’d best have your throne reupholstered,
I’ll be wanting to use it next week.”

When Harold heard this ‘ere defiance
With rage, he turned purple and blue,
And shouted so rude words in Saxon,
To which William answered: “And you!”

It were a beautiful day for a battle.
The Normans set off with a will.
And when they’d all duly assembled,
They tossed for the top of the hill.

King Harold, he won the advantage.
On the hilltop he took up his stand,
With his knaves and his lads all around him
On his horse, with his hawk in his hand.

Now the Normans had nowt in their favour.
Their chance for a victory were small
For the slope of the field were against them
And the wind in their faces, and all.

The kick-off was sharp at 2.30
And as soon as the whistle had went
Both sides started bashing each other
Till the swineherds could hear them in Kent.

The Saxons had best line of forwards,
Well armed with buckler and sword,
But the Normans had best combination
So when halftime came, neither had scored.

Then t’Duke called his cohorts together
And said: “Let’s pretend that we’re beat.
And when we get t’Saxons on level
We can cut off their means of retreat.”

So they ran and the Saxons ran after
Just exactly as William had planned
Leaving Harold alone on the hilltop
One his horse, with his hawk in his hand.

When William saw what had happened
His bow and his arrow he drew
He went straight up to Harold and shot him.
He were offside, but what could they do?

Then t’Normans turned round with a fury
And gave back both parry and thrust,
Till the battle were over, bar shouting
And you couldn’t see Saxons for dust.

And after the battle were over
There, sitting so stately and grand
Was Harold, with an eyeful of arrow
On his horse, with his hawk in his hand.

By George Marriott Edgar (1880 – 1951)

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Poetry Week – All that is gold does not glitter by J.R.R. Tolkien

Happy World Poetry Day!

It’s difficult to select a “favourite poem of all time”. Not difficult in the same way of chosing a favourite song (which is actually impossible), but difficult in a way that the question demands special attention.

You can usually tell a lot about a person from what their favourite poem is in a way that you can’t from their favourite song(s). My favourite poems are mostly ones I read during my childhood because that was the only time that I really just absorbed poetry as if I needed it to live. You can already make assumptions on my character from that, and you can make even more assumptions based on my actual favourite: All that is gold does not glitter.

Why is it my favourite? Couldn’t really tell you. It’s short, effective, and from Lord of the Rings and that’s magical as fuck so that’s probably all there is to it. Still, it’s the only poem I’ve loved so much that I wrote it out in Circular Gallifreyan to print and hang on my wall.

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Don’t give me shit about mixing the fandoms – it’s awesome and you know it.

It’s a beautiful poem, perfectly fitting to end Poetry Week. And now I invite you to share your favourite poems, and I won’t make any assumptions on your character based on your choice, promise.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

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Poetry Week – I have a gentil cock by Anon

World Poetry Day takes place on 21st March. I’m posting five of my favourite poems this week – what are your favourites?

Sometimes the best poems are the naughty ones; case in point: Chaucer.

I don’t know about you but I enjoy a naughty poem a lot more if it’s written in yesteryear – like this one is (early 15th century).

It’s simple, crude, and funny. And it’s a fave.

I have a gentil cock
croweth me day
he doth me risen early
my matins for to stay

I have a gentil cock
comen he is of great
his comb is of red coral
his tail is of jet

I have a gentil cock
comen he is of kind
his comb is of red sorrel
his tail is of inde

his legs be of azure
so gentil and so small
his spurs are of silver white
into the wortewale

his eyes are of crystal
locked all in amber
and every night he pertcheth him
in my lady`s chamber

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Poetry Week – The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

World Poetry Day takes place on 21st March. I’m posting five of my favourite poems this week – what are your favourites?

Did anyone else read The Highwayman at school? Did anyone else develop a little bit of a crush/obsession with the Highwayman after that? Oh come on, it can’t just me me…

The Highwayman was the most ‘shocking’ thing my class was exposed to at school. Until we started sex education that is (*shudder*). I swear I was only six or seven when we read the tragic tale of the highwayman and boy was it awesome. Murder, suicide, boobs, ghosts…I don’t actually know why we studied it but I’m bloody glad we did.

I adored it; I wanted to fall in love with a highwayman after reading this poem, though hopefully not with the same outcome. I do remember trying to find more stories about highwaymen and calling the moon a ‘ghostly galleon’ for a good while.

Though I may have the nostalgia goggles on, I do think this is a fab poem – ghostly and eerie yet romantic and tragic. And wow that imagery!

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

‘One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.’

He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i’ the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.

He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o’ the tawny sunset, before the rise o’ the moon,
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
Marching—marching—
King George’s men came matching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
‘Now, keep good watch!’ and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love’s refrain .

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i’ the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
Riding—riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

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